Tuesday 16 August 2011

Hot Rocks

Indelible, constant, eternal and so sparkling they would do the constellation studded night skies proud, engagement rings are arguably the downright prettiest seal of a deal ever bestowed.

Whether a radiant band of brilliantine stones or a single, stonking great solitaire, the thing about diamonds is their unfailing ability to unite something so tangible - a gesture of the love that gave them - and the otherwordly composition of their matter. Stones of light, impact and beauty - diamonds aren't much more than glorified granite. Were it not for their symbolism as a talisman of a promise to marry; possibly the biggest risk and most significant commitment we can take these days and all the more hopelessly romantic for it; diamonds are just wan and colourless rubies. But ever since the Italians decided diamonds should be the stone of betrothal in the 14th century, we've been smitten. Personally, I like the Swedish tradition of giving the plain gold or silver band upon engagement, and the stone-set ring to wed. But then I wouldn't have the cluster of antique diamonds on my hand that draw so many coos and the nicety of strangers who always soften towards me on spotting them. It makes a welcome change from conversation starters of weather, work or one's day. Diamonds have a way of carrying us all away from the everyday.

GROOMS: a respect for tradition might mean you think as a groom you need to either coax an inherited heirloom from family members - and the thing about diamonds is that they are remarkably difficult to give up, turning even the most rational and altruistic Grandma into a geegaw. And the myth of blowing three month's salary on a ring to impress your lover with? Exactly that, a myth that dates from the time when wages were much lower, so you would have got a teeny diamond even with a three month long bread and butter diet. 

Playing it safe and traditional may also mean that you ignore the quirkier, cooler options. Whilst a nice, delicate white diamond may elicit an ecstatic 'Yes!' from some, there are jewellers such as Solange Azagury Patridge and antique dealers at Gray's Antique Market or Kaizen in Rochester, Kent who would rescue a fiancee from a criminally expensive ring that does nothing for them. Their signature exoticism and the one-off uniqueness of an antique ring will no doubt make a stylish girl a very happy one. There is after all, no one like her - otherwise you wouldn't be asking the question.

Now, however, even the engagement ring royalty Tiffany's, Van Cleef and Arpels, De Beers, Hirsch, Boucheron and Cartier are carrying more unusual rings.

But, if the prospect of getting it wrong really does unsettle you as it's the one time when you really, really want to be definitively right, read my secrets to a ring that rocks - and getsyou the answer you're looking for:

  • Take a cluster of photos of your girl with you to help you convey her style.
  • Rummage through her jewellery box and establish what metal she leans towards with more serious jewellery - although beware the fact women who are usually happy knocking about in silver trinkets are the most likely to be going for gold when it comes to a lifelong item such as wedding bands.
  • Take along one of her closest friends, sworn in blood to secrecy, to help you choose.
  •  Consider popping the question with a 'holding' ring. A sweet golden band that spells out 'Love' from Solange Azagury-Partridge or Alex Monroe would do the trick. 
  • But the biggest secret of all? If it's diamonds, and matches up to a ring size snuck from her jewellery box, if you know and love her to the very fibres of her lovely being? It may only be rock and roll, but we'll like it.

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